HIV/AIDS is devastating the world’s youth, with some 5,000 people aged 15 to 24 infected each day, according to a United Nations report written by young people and launched today in New York.
In “Our Voice, Our Future”, youths report on progress made against the pandemic since the General Assembly’s 2001 special session on HIV/AIDS, according to Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The Assembly will bring the world’s nations together tomorrow for a special one-day meeting to review what has been achieved, and the challenges that remain, in realizing the goals they had adopted five years ago.
“Young people still feel sidelined and ornamental when it comes to the national response to HIV/AIDS,” Ms. Obaid said today during a press conference. Leaders at tomorrow’s meeting were urged to listen to young people, learn from them and support their leadership, as UNFPA had been doing on a regular basis to better protect them from the ravages of the disease.
At the launch, one of the report’s authors, 20-year-old Eunice Aghete from Nigeria, noting the particularly high risks young women faced in Africa, said that young people were not interested in being called up to “rubber stamp” programmes designed by adults, but wanted to be involved from start to finish.
Another author, 22-year-old Vikram Singh Laishram from India, who had been infected through a contaminated syringe, said that young people lacked the information to protect themselves and the support that would enable them to disclose their HIV status with fear of discrimination.
Ms. Aghete and Mr. Laishram are now working with Global Youth Partners and Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS which wrote the report after conducting research in 12 developing countries.